The 2016 Toronto Fringe Festival is here! Mine started with Spoon Vs. Hammer’s Behold, the Barfly! at the Monarch Tavern and it was very hilarious, very alive, and very Fringe in the best of ways.
Behold, the Barfly! delivered on its promise of being “a surreal and cerebral sketch spectacular.” With its loose frame story of each sketch being a dream of our “Barfly”, the shorts were similar in humour, but diverse enough in subject that I was delighted by each in its own way.
Without giving away the ghost, highlights were the ensemble’s take on two very different therapy groups, an unorthodox and dastardly comedic stand-up comedy routine, and a creative interpretation of R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly”.
I felt the first sketch of the night – involving the termination meeting of a children’s entertainer – set the tone for the entire evening. The timing and rhythm between Ned Petrie and Eric Miinch nailed down the laughs which, due to the subject at hand, could otherwise have been jeers with lesser performers.
With this first sketch, as with all of the others, the comedy was dark and the performances light, leading to the Monarch Tavern being filled with laughter – and the occasional approving “oh” – throughout the entire show.
Kevin MacPherson’s versatility had me in stitches with his take on an Agatha Christie detective, as well as his incarnation of M. Night Shyamalan.
In addition to nailing the role of being the haunted subject of “terrible” reality show ideas, I would argue Marsha Mason’s best performance came with her silent interaction with a broom and the “easter egg” shout-out that those of us old enough to remember, will enjoy due to its clever and unexpected nature.
Steve Hobbs and Jeff Hanson compelled us (and each other) to think about some peculiar things that make “zero (expletive) sense”, leading to a beautiful and, considering the time of year, poignant conclusion for their characters.
Elizabeth Anacleto and Sarah Thorpe were the chameleons of the night. While everyone played multiple characters with no “starring roles”, Anacleto and Thorpe played the widest range on stage. I feel with each sketch they were in, they were the strong supporting players and provided that extra comedic oomph.
If this were a sketch and stage play writing report card, I would give full marks to Justin Haigh for his quirky, intelligent, and highly comedic script. He scored high in every category, namely, current subject matter, misdirection, timing, and farce.
To conclude: Go See Behold, the Barfly! It is funny and Fringe at its best.
- Behold, the Barfly! plays at the Monarch Tavern. (12 Clinton St.)
- Tickets are $12 at the door and in advance, and can be bought online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Honest Ed’s Alley, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Content Warnings: Strobe Light, Nudity, Sexual Content, Mature Language.
- Wednesday June 29th, 07:00 pm
- Thursday June 30th, 07:00 pm
- Friday July 1st, 07:00 pm
- Saturday July 2nd, 07:00 pm
- Sunday July 3rd, 07:00 pm
- Tuesday July 5th, 07:00 pm
- Wednesday July 6th, 07:00 pm
- Thursday July 7th, 07:00 pm
- Friday July 8th, 07:00 pm
- Saturday July 9th, 03:00 pm
- Saturday July 9th, 07:00 pm
- Sunday July 10th, 07:00 pm
Photo of Marsha Mason, Ned Petrie, Sarah Thorpe, Tim Walker, Kevin MacPherson, and Elizabeth Anacleto by Laura Dittman